Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Groove Experiments: Chris Boerner Trio

There are so many talented musicians in this area, it's insane. Guitarist Chris Boerner is my latest fix: his experimental jazz gives me the happiest high I've come across lately that isn't Afro-Cuban.

Chris Boerner Trio
Chris Boerner Trio @ The Station

Boerner, a Duke Jazz Studies grad, plays once a month at The Station with the trio made up of drummer Nick Baglio and bassist Damon Brown. Brown teaches bass at NCCU, and exploits a 6-string for Boerner's trio gigs. Baglio, son of Steam drummer Dick Baglio, has been mad touring lately with Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad?, and has a secret past as a timbalero, a legacy of his student days at the University of Miami.

I knew there was something...

Yep, every good drummer knows clave, but not even every Latin drummer can mess around with it productively, without violating its spirit. The trio plays improvisationally, everything from Monk to Radiohead. And even when pushing the meter across barlines, they never drop the groove, as Boerner's bopping head attests. When they allude to styles--samba, New Orleans second-line, guitar rock, reggae--it's witty and minimal, and somehow always soaked in funk. Boerner achieves upper octaves, electronic sounds, and distortion using a suitcase full of pedals:

Chris Boerner's pedals

Though metrically and harmonically playful, Boerner's music always remains groove-based and groove-driven. No wonder I like it. Those are qualities of a lot of timba and Afro-Cuban jazz. Brain and booty are in full agreement: this music feels good.

Here's Monk's "Bye-Ya" from the first set (low-light video, but it achieves sound capture):

They closed their second set with "Faceplant," a Boerner original:

The Station, a Carrboro bar on the tracks near Weaver Street Market, has indoor/outdoor spaces and mixes funky DIY decor with antique wood bar fixtures. See their no-cover music schedule here.

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